In memoriam: founder, former director of ATEC dies

Thomas Linehan, founder of AHT program, dies at the age of 80

UTD | Courtesy


Thomas Linehan, founder of the Arts and Technology program and the former director of the Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering at UTD, died at the age of 80 at the Oxford Glen memory care residence on April 11. 

During his tenure at UTD between 2002 and 2009, Linehan led the development of the Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering and opened one of the nation’s first motion capture and virtual reality laboratories. His work eventually led to the UT System Board of Regents approving what is today known as the Harry W. Bass Jr. School of Arts, Humanities and Technology in 2015. In 2007, he was honored as the university’s first Arts and Humanities Distinguished Chair in gratitude for his advancements in pioneering computer animation. 

Linehan received his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts Multimedia at Webster University in St. Louis in 1966. It led him to his first role in education at The Ohio State University in his hometown of Columbus as an instructor with the Department of Art Education from 1970 to 1981. During his time as a professor, he later received his master’s degree in 1972 and doctorate in 1981. Linehan would stay at Ohio State for several more years, ultimately introducing computer animation into the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design in 1987 while serving as associate director of the center and associate professor of the Department of Art Education between 1981 and 1989. 

In 1989, Linehan moved to Texas, first working as associate dean for the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University until 1992, where he founded the University’s Visualization Laboratory. He then moved to Houston as senior vice president of CRSS Architects Inc. — an international architecture firm where he introduced advanced computer-based visualization — until 1994 and additionally served as the director of information technologies research at the Houston Advanced Research Center until 1996.  

Linehan then moved to Sarasota, Florida and became president of the Ringling School of Art and Design. During his tenure from 1996 to 1999, he directed several programs that resulted in enrollment increases, administrative reform and campus expansions. Additionally, he developed the school’s Computer Animation Program.  

Linehan once again returned to Ohio State in 1999 to work as the director of the Research Partners Program for its College of the Arts until 2001, before once again returning to Texas to work at UTD. 

During his tenure at UTD, Linehan served as a member of the Education and Library Committee at the Dallas Museum of Art, International Game Developers Association and as an editor for the MIT Press Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology. He also performed contracted work with the U.S. Army, the U.S. Joint Forces Command and the Office of Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, primarily focusing on using video games for military training and simulations.  


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